Bambili-Cameroon: 14 years old Water Heroine, Kewoh Cynthia Faith, donates 500Fcfa lunch money for the giant water project.
She is a Form II student of the Cameroon College of Arts, Science and Technology, CCAST Bambili in the Mezam Division of the North West Region. She was born into a peasant family some 14 years ago. Growing up, she discovered one of her obligatory household chores was to fetch water for cooking, bathing and drinking.
Initially, it was an exciting exercise for young Kewoh Cynthia Faith as it allowed her to commune with other children in the neighbourhood and from the water source. With population pressure, drought and uncertain climatic conditions, Cynthia Faith realized the original water source nearby was drying off, and she would need to walk long distances to fetch water for her personal and family use.
Living on less than $1 a day, Cynthia Faith’s family could not afford the expensive cost of connecting water to their home from the National Water utility Cooperation, SNEC, whose capacity was to service a Bambili community of fewer than 15000 inhabitants following the 2015 census.
Today, in a fast-growing University community with over 19000 student population and with Bambili town’s population now estimated at 29000 inhabitants, the issue of having an additional and sustainable water supply source is more acute. It has been a permanent preoccupation of young Cynthia Faith, who goes late to school most days of the week, as she would spend time trekking to fetch water for bathing, cooking, and drinking for the family.
Cynthia Faith is not alone. Most children, especially girls in the Bambili community and, by extension, other communities in Cameroon, walk an average of 3.7 miles a day in search of clean water sources. This could have been spent revising notes, doing homework, going to school, caring for family members or generating income. The situation is more pathetic in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon as children could be cut down by a bullet back and forth fetching water.
This has been a worrisome situation for Cynthia Faith, who lost the father some time ago and today has to assist the mother at home before going to school or after school each day for the family to make ends meet.
When the Bambili Cultural and Development Association under the determined leadership of Eric Adangfung who doubles as Director-General of the Upper Nun Valley Development Authority, UNVDA, announced a fundraiser for a giant water project harnessed from Lake Bambili capable of supplying water to all the homes in the community at an affordable cost, little Cynthia Faith decided to begin saving her lunch money in school for the water project.
For the weeks running up to last Saturday, December 4, 2021, Cynthia starved in school to save for the water project. Worthy of note is the fact that Cynthia Faith only succeeded in registering in school this academic year thanks to the intervention of the paramount ruler of Bambili fandom, Afungchui III, who urged the School Principal to admit her without any conditions met, as the family was unable to meet up with admission requirements.
With dried lips and a famine look on her face, Cynthia Faith left school last Saturday and rushed first to the event venue at the esplanade of the Bambili Fon’s palace to make sure her dream of contributing to the realization of the water project became a reality. With her school bag strapped to her back, she made her way straight to the makeshift fundraising secretariat to announce her widow’s might.
Cynthia Faith’s 500FCFA, an equivalent of $1, accumulated over the weeks before the fundraiser, was announced to the amazement and sundry.
The announcement that turned into excitement mixed with sympathy caused many well-wishers to spontaneously launch a Special support fund towards Cynthia Faith scholarship, amounting to over 80000FCFA. With her 500 plus 10000 support, her water basket came up to 10500FCFA.
By the end of the event, 77 million out of the projected 600 million FCFA was raised, to the satisfaction of Cynthia Faith and many girls in the Bambili community, who would soon see water problems as a thing of the past, given that water is life.
It should be recalled that although water is a basic human need, every day, 2.1 billion people across the world still wake up each morning without access to clean, drinking water; 3.4 million people die each year from scarce and contaminated water sources. Millions of women and children spend 3-6 hours collecting water from distant and polluted sources. At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with a lack of access to clean water.
It is in this situation that Cynthia Faith had to sacrifice her food money to avoid for her generation and generations to come.
ABOUT AUTHOR: Colbert Gwain is an International Freelance journalist, award-winning Digital Rights advocate, Content Creator @TheColbertFulai, Trainer of Trainer for Facebook, and Specialist on New Digital Civil Society in Africa.